This past weekend I had the pleasure of flying across to Toronto to meet for the first time a bunch of guys I've known online for quite a long time. They included vfdc regulars Llanfair, kbcat, GodEater and Plasma along with some other guys, Clem (who I had met years ago in Vancouver) and Matt. The real fun began when I was departing from Montreal's Dorval airport. With just a backpack containing a change of clothes and my DC agetec stick, getting onto the plane should have been a relatively smooth experience. But as I passed through the metal detector to go and pick up my bag, I was asked to open it up. Maybe the joystick looks like a bomb or something under the scan, but anyway, I open my bag and take the joystick out. The airport dude takes it from me, looking at it inquisitvely and asks, "What is this?". "It's a game controller", I reply. He puts the joystick down on the table, turns his head and calls out to get the attention of his coworkers, and then GOES TO TOWN on my joystick as if he's playing. He grips the stick and mashes a few buttons while making "pish pish pish" sounds with his mouth, much to the amusement of his onlooking colleagues. He was oblivious to the fact that I was holding up the queue while he had his little fun. Folks, I cannot stress to you just how embarrassing the whole ordeal was, and how badly I wanted to jump up on the table, grab my stick and smash it into his face. sigh. The flight time was just under an hour. So when I arrived I got to thinking (which I'm inclined to do at times) as to how I was going to recognise Llanfair who was going to pick me up, because neither of us knew what the other looked liked. He and kbcat must of been thinking the same because as I exited the airport, I saw two guys standing there holding a pamphlet with the letters MYKE scribbled over it in pen. Heh, kinda funny yet suprisingly effective! I went over immediately, and introduced myself to Llanfair and kbcat. We made our way back to Llanfair's place, which is where I was to be staying for the weekend. We wasted no time and go right into the VFing. It must of been midnight (saturday am) and we played for a few hours I think. I don't remember much else 'cept that kbcat was just cleaning up! So the VF ice had been broken and playing against these guys was such fun. If that was a sign of things to come, then I was really looking forward to the rest of the weekend where I'd get to meet the others. Both Llanfair and kbcat were quite adept with many characters, as I was too, so our constant switching up teams made for some really enjoyable and dynamic matches. Incidentally, Llanfair noticed that our "serious" team selections were similar in that we'd choose Akira as the opener, Kage as the anchor, and then we had a choice of a filler character which just put a slightly different accent to the overall team. Quite interesting, but anyways. So saturday came with kbcat coming around Llanfair's place again where we played around somemore. Few hours later, after getting a little VF'ed out, we played a bit of FV2 which made for a pleasant distraction. After playing it I've decided that I must buy this game, it's such a blast! Plasma arrives late in the afternoon, so we switch back to VF and challenges were getting much more interesting, competitive and fun. I had heard a lot of good things about Plasma's Taka, so playing against him was great and he certainly lived up to my expectations. Having other commitments, kbcat soon left, so it was just myself, Llanfair and Plasma fighting it out before Clem and Matt finally arrive early in the evening. It's a good feeling to be in the same room with a bunch of good players who also happen to be such great people. Matt had to leave after a while, and we soon after headed downtown for dinner. It was during dinner that GodEater entered the scene, and it was great to meet him finally. With our bellies full, we headed across to the infamous Funland to check out the TB machine. Unfortunately, the left stick was terrible, and I found the diagonals were almost impossible to hit. So rather than spending money trying to adapt, we decided to bail back to Llan's where the setup was more accomodating. It was a bit of a shame though as we all much preferred sharing the experience in the arcade. Oh, before I forget, I have to mention the insane amount of joysticks we had to play with! Both Plasma and myself brought along our agetec (jap style) sticks. Llanfair had his two american style sticks, and kbcat had his two infamous optical sticks. Everyone was easily accomodated and you couldn't ask for a better setup really. So we played on into the night. GodEater showed off some nice Ura throughout his matches, a joy to watch. I remember seeing a low back throw there somewhere with his Wolf. Clem's Jacky and Taka brought back memories of Vancouver, like fighting an old friend on new ground, a fresh yet familiar experience. Plasma transformed into a monster with practically any character he played. Llanfair's Lion, suprisingly enough, gave me constant headaches but the matches were always a blast nonetheless. And it was great to finally pit my Akira and Kage against his. Fantastic matches! It must of been about 1am before everyone finally left. Our eyes were weary, our minds numb and our arms/hands/fingers sore. So Llanfair and I took a walk outside to get some air, and get some food. We eventually just came back and ordered pizza, and chilled out to some cool conversation. Just when I thought we both couldn't take anymore, we turn the DC back on and start messin' around with Akira in training mode. We spent some time trying to work out why I couldn't ST, SJK, PGx2, m-DbPlm against a med.weight on flat ground, but he could! We broke it down, play-by-play, and compared the frames -- how fast were the punches? how fast was the first punch after the SJK? how tight was the m-DbPlm -- but we couldn't figure it out why mine whiffed and his hit. It's such a deceptive combo, but it finally dawned upon me. Distancing is everything, and I noticed Llanfair's SJK is slighty more delayed than mine, enabling him to start the entire combo that little bit closer than I do. And it's that little bit that makes a world of difference. We also fooled around with other funky ST buffers, primarily with the buffered SJK after a knee or ShRm. Fun stuff, and it's cool to sit down with someone and compare virtual notes, brainstorm a few ideas, and ponder possibilites. As cool as message boards get, nothing beats real life interaction. Must of turned in close to 5am Sunday morning. So the remainder of Sunday was relatively low key. A chance to unwind and reflect on the marathon of VF that started the previous day and ended early that morning. I'd just like to thank Owen again for welcoming me to Toronto, being a generous host and allowing me to stay at his place. I'd also like to thank the other guys - Graham, James, Johnson, Clem and Matt for taking time out for some VF that weekend while I was in town. It was a great pleasure to have met you and I'd like you all to know that should you ever be in town (Montreal, Sydney, wherever), know that you can look me up and you'll have a place to stay. Cheers! Myke p.s. I know there's more I've forgotten, so I'll probably add it in later.